We all know that in this life we will have trouble, but that doesn’t prevent us from being blindsided when that trouble comes. Such as it was with me 3 years ago when my husband was diagnosed with incurable cancer. And then, 18 months later, my life was completely uprooted when that cancer took his life. I’m only 32, and now I’m a single mother of two young girls, tackling life partner-less.
I’ll admit that even though I trust God, I get caught up in day-long (sometimes week-long) bouts of self-pity where I appeal (okay, maybe whine) to God with these questions:
Don’t I deserve happiness?
If God wants to give “good gifts” where are mine?
Does God want me to be in this kind of pain?
But here’s the good news: I’m getting better and better at recognizing lies the more I grow in Christ. And unfortunately, these self-pity sessions are a great big one. When I ask myself these questions, I’m operating under the belief that God owes me something.
But wait a minute: surely God wants me to be happy, right?
When I asked God this question recently, the Spirit led me to this verse:
We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)
I don’t know about you, but I tend to default happiness into the “good” category, and into the “bad” category go things like cancer, widowhood, and fatherless children. But is this also how God thinks about good things?
We can provide a pretty solid answer to that by considering God’s plan of redemption for mankind--his son, Jesus Christ. This is a very good plan, but was it a pain-free and happy experience for Jesus? Definitely not (actually, I’ve heard crucifixion is one of the absolute worst ways to die).
Could it be that perhaps God’s definition of good is much, much bigger than my feelings or current situation? What if God’s definition includes things like: furthering his kingdom, preparing hearts for eternity, glorifying his name on earth, and deepening his relationship with his children? And this verse contains something else important. This good is only for those who love him--not because God is punishing everyone else--but because those who truly know and love God will accept all circumstances for what they are: a good thing done for his purpose.
When I switch my point of view from God existing for my pleasure, and place it on how I can better exist for his good, long pity parties don’t even stand a chance.
We actually rob ourselves of the joy that is offered to us during a trial by not understanding God’s definition of our good. Oh, yes we will feel the pain and suffer; but don’t let these temporal and fleeting feelings rob you of the glorious work God has set into motion. He has a purpose for it, and it is God-sized good!
~ Kristin VanZanten